Wireless Access

Frequent Contributor II

Portable High Density Event Wifi

At our University we have mostly ubiquitous indoor wirless, we also have a large amount of outdoor spaces covered.   These outdoor spaces are not configured for density as much as they are range, so they work great with limited amounts of users.   We have a handful of larger events that our outdoors that require wifi connectivity. The user count quickly would outstrip current capacity in those outdoor spaces.  Our planned solution is to have a temporary wireless deployment, to add density to these areas during an event.    To do this we will utilize  tripods,  Aruba APs,  some kind of agrigator (maybe a rugged POE switch, maybe a controller) and then a backhaul (Ethernet extenders,  rugged fiber cable, or wireless point to point)  Beyond just those pieces we will also need spools, carrying cases, cable covers, etc..)  


My question is, has anyone created such a kit before?  What works well, and what doesn't?  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated as well as product recommendations beyond Aruba ie. tripods, fiber cable, rugged switches. 



Re: Portable High Density Event Wifi

For masts and potable towers, check out:

Ventev/Terrawave portable AP mounts

BlueSky Masts (support up to 10m high poles)


We can also reference companies that make trailers with mechanically retractible masts that can be deployed without guy wires


For outdoor HD, you need APs high up, with directional antennas aimed towards the ground. These can be with multiple centralized masts and APs on the same mast down firing, or putting your masts on the permimeter down firing into the crowds.


Using APs with omni-directional atnennas is not ideal as it just blasts RF out in all directions. 


you still want to assume 100 clients per AP, maybe stretch it to 150, but anything over that will not really be useable. So if you have an outdoor area with 5000 users, you would want to somehow leverage 30-50APs, which may or may not be possible. But many times you can leverage existing building APs and infrastructure, along with some mast-deployed APs. 


Mesh is not usually a good deployment medium for HD outdoor deployments because it takes over one of the 5Ghz channels, but if you have to, you can make a multi-layer mesh network (with dual band APs using one chunck of channels and the mesh using another), you can get away with that in some limited fashion.

Hope that helps

Jerrod Howard
Distinguished Technologist, TME
Frequent Contributor II

Re: Portable High Density Event Wifi

Thank you for the helpful information!  Wifi for sure doesn't travel well through a thick crowd for sure.  I want to get good height without requring guy wires (but safely)  maybe pegs or ground anchors would help.   Do you have any recomendations on backhaul. I am having a hard time finding portable spools of rugged fiber.

Contributor II

Re: Portable High Density Event Wifi

When evaluating the same kind of setup last year for a customer of us, I concluded that fiber is not a great option for such deployments, unless you can invest in a permanent setup. Unless it is well protected and well taking care of, it will always be more prone to breakage and vadalism.


What I ended with was either a Mesh backhaul or a Free Space Optic (known as FSO , a point-to-point laser). Mesh is obviously a lot cheaper option but you have to dedicate one band as backhaul. On the other hand, FSO is really like a dedicated 1000BaseT cable.


(I)AP-275 will ideal in most cases but they might be still limited as they can only register 256 stations per radio. Another option would be to use (I)AP-277 in a sectorized pattern. Different scenarios do exist but the most used one is the "cell phone tower" like (3 AP-277 per tower). It also requires that you have more than one tower, each overlapping the other.


Don't forget the whole AP-270 series can be powered by regular AC power, making it easier to deploy in your scenario. You'll only have to purchase the external power cables separately.


At the end, it really depends on what kind of budget you have. Keep in mind if the cheapest solution is retained, you might have to stretch a bit too far this network as the demand grows (as it will likely not shrink) over the next years.

Frequent Contributor II

Re: Portable High Density Event Wifi

In an attempt to try to keep this under $10k here is what I was planning:


1x 500m Ethernet cable with  Gigabit POE Ethernet extender  for backhaul

1x POE+10 port switch

1x ANKER Powerhouse  battery power unit

8x AP 314 with AP-ANT-38

2x Structured cabling with 4x Ethernet cables  @250feet

2x Tripods with T-bar  12 foot height.


I am hoping to use 4x WAPs per tripod, angled down at 12foot height.  

I like the fiber and the laser backhaul ideas but couldn't afford it.  What are some pitfalls I need to be concerned with?  Thanks you all for the assistance. 

Contributor II

Re: Portable High Density Event Wifi

This won't work the way you intend it. There is a lot more into this project then you envisionned so far.


Please reply with an email address so I can send you my contact info. I believe this would be a lot simpler over the phone.

Frequent Contributor II

Re: Portable High Density Event Wifi

What specifically, wont work?  Are you thinking the RF will not be able to permeate into the crowd at that height? or some other mitigating factor?   I want to keep everything on this thread so that others with similar issues can use it as a resource. 

Contributor II

Re: Portable High Density Event Wifi

I only tried to be more effective by requesting you a call. As English is not my native language, I'm much more fluent in speaking it than writing it. 


The AP300 series are totally awesome but simply not suitable for outdoor deployments.  Whatever other manufacturer's claims, 802.11ac wave 2 needs something to reflect to be really effective. Outdoor venues are everything but reflective. Moreover, you will still have to protect these indoor AP by a suitable housing and mount them as well as the external antennas. It complexify the installation. At the end, you'll be better served by acquiring and deploying AP-275 or AP-277.


I tend to use omnidirectional AP more than anything else. I found it's way easier for our customers to get an effective coverage pattern by raising multiple AP-275 on temporary masts or lighting poles.


If you still want to deploy AP with external antennas, you'll need a minimum of one (1) meter of physical separation between each antenna, in order to control the noise floor. Otherwise, each AP transmission will affect the noise floor of other AP, reducing their effectiveness.


Let me know if you have other questions or concerns.

Frequent Contributor II

Re: Portable High Density Event Wifi


Thanks for your thoughts on the deployment, your help is appreciated.  In regards to the model of AP selected,  I am in a fairly unique situation geographically.  We have some of the most consistent climate at around 75 degrees Fahrenheit year round, we get maybe a week of rain all year.  We have deployed indoor WAPs outdoors on a permannt basis under eaves, and had success,  and for a very limited time period I think we will be ok outdoors. Also the price point is very hard to beat.   I chose the 3xx series because it is now the same price as the 2xx series, so might as well get the boost in processor and ram preformance to handle more users. I dont expect to get any wave2 preformance gains at all.   I am custom fabricating an articulating mount that will hold the WAP and the antenna.  We are always trying to find an excuse to 3d print something in the office :)   Lastly I recall a disagreement between the big-wigs at Aruba during a higher-ed summit a few years ago Eric Johnson, their RF head honcho seemed and another Aruba employee were debating if there was any problem with close proximity of deployment of WAPs.  They both agreed there would be huge problems if they were on the same channel, but disagreed on if it would be an impact for different channels in regards to bleed off RF coming from those antenna.  I will have to ask and see who was correct in that argument. 

Contributor II

Re: Portable High Density Event Wifi



I have great respect for all Aruba's RF gurus out there. I had the privilege to had Eric Johnson locked in a conference room with us twice, where we openly discussed of various deployment problems and solutions to resolve them. Let me tell you that he had solutions that we could not believe of. To make matter worst, all of them worked perfectly.


I had also the opportunity to get my hands dirty on some nasty stuff. (You know , the kind of stuff where up to eight radios can be crammed together in a single housing...) Anyway, there is some truth about having radios too close in the same band as they do backfeed each other, thus increasing the noise floor. Of course, if you are careful when choosing the channels in the 5GHz band each will use, you can mitigate the issue but you won't be able to eliminate it entirely. The problem worsen in the 2.4GHz band where there is no mitigation possible, as the three channels barely clear each other. There is no workaround for this problem in that later band. You can quickly setup a lab with three AP and a controller to clear this out. Set two AP as access points, have some data transfer ongoing to a couple stations and have the third AP in spectrum analysis.


None of us were aware of your purchasing deal and your university's location specificities so I won't challenge your choice to use the AP300 series. In Canuckistan, there is really no other options than installing outdoor rated AP, unless you hide the indoor AP inside while having the external antenna mounted outside.


If you really want to go cheap for this temporary setup, you can use an inverted bucket, small trash can or a caped short section of plumbing pipe to cover your AP. Rule of thumb is to have that container twice as long as the vertical measurement of the AP that it will protect. Unless the container's material crack or is broken, water won't get in it.


Another option to get the job done will be to use a lenght of metal pipe as mast. Whatever vendors tells you, it does not need to be collapsible: it needs to be safe. It needs to get a good, sturdy and properly weighted base, which can be compensated by adding guy-wires. I'll let you and/or fellow engineers and mathematical gurus at the university figuring this out.


Lastly, gives a chance to the good old TV coax cable when you'll be thinking of a cheap solution for this project backhaul needs. RG6 cable is far cheaper than any twisted pair contraptions and can provide you 1000BaseT at 2.4km. You can even reuse a coax cable in service if you put the proper RF filters on. It might be just plain luck but I had no adapters failing on any installations I've done since 2009. You'll find plenty of information about this if you search "ethernet over coax" on any good search engine.


Keep us posted with your successes and failures.


(BTW, I'm still open for a call if need be.)


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